Western lowland gorilla dies suddenly at ARTIS

– Feb. 13, 2019

At around 6.30 p.m. yesterday evening, one of our Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), Sindy, passed away suddenly at the age of 33. The cause of death was a massive inflammation in her abdomen accompanied by a large amount of related abdominal fluid. What caused the inflammation is still being investigated. An autopsy revealed that she was beyond saving.

Sindy, a female gorilla, had been receiving treatment from our veterinary team for some time, as she had been showing repeated brief lapses of alertness. Last year, she underwent an extensive examination by specialists from the OLVG hospital. A full repeat examination had been scheduled for the near future. This morning, her keepers found her dead in the indoor enclosure. Western lowland gorillas live in troops and have been observed to display mourning behaviour. Gorillas first examine a body to ensure it is lifeless. When the gorillas distanced themselves from her body this morning, it was removed from the enclosure. A few of the other gorillas still call to her on occasion.


Sindy was mother to six offspring, three of which were born in ARTIS. Two of them are still part of the ARTIS troop. The youngest, Shae, is three years old. Usually, young gorillas separate from their mothers when they are three or four years old. Shae had recently been suckling less and less and is already capable of gathering his own food. Although he is now capable of leading an independent life, he is being kept under close observation by his keepers. He will remain part of the troop, which consists of eight other gorillas: a silverback, two mature females, four adolescent males and an adolescent female.

Western lowland gorilla

The western lowland gorilla is a critically endangered species. These gorillas live in forested areas, such as jungles, in various countries in West Africa. The main threat to troops that live in the wild is posed by humans. Due to deforestation, western lowland gorilla habitats are shrinking and becoming fragmented. They are also hunted for their meat, which is also referred to as ‘bushmeat’. In the wild, western lowland gorillas live to an age of between 35 and 40. Animals living in zoos reach an average age of 47. ARTIS is part of the European breeding programme for western lowland gorillas.